The Answer That Fit
When my employer decided to introduce a new marketing program, I was asked to give a thirty-minute presentation to twenty regional salespeople from across the country.
Wanting to present a creative message, I chose from my dresser drawer several T-shirts I had collected from different areas around the United States. While I was organizing the shirts for my presentation, I felt impressed to add one more that I’d passed over because I didn’t feel I’d have the courage to display it.
My plan was to hold up one shirt at a time and ask the appropriate salesperson how the new program could help the area represented on the T-shirt. For example, I would display a T-shirt from San Francisco and ask the northern California salesperson how he could implement the program there.
My audience had fun during my presentation, and a strong rapport developed among us. When I reached the last shirt in my pile, I felt a brief wave of concern about holding it up—but I wanted to act upon the impression I had received earlier. The shirt read, “I’d rather be Mormon.” To my relief, the group responded positively as we talked about Salt Lake City.
Just as I was about to put the shirt down, I felt an impression to toss it to the Los Angeles salesperson in the second row. He looked surprised as he caught it. After the meeting he came forward and asked, “Why did you throw me that shirt?” I told him simply that I felt I should.
The salesperson confided to me that he’d been having a discouraging year of too much traveling and consumption of alcohol. Feeling that his life was out of control, he’d joined Alcoholics Anonymous several months before. Lately he’d been feeling that it was time to take the next step to improve his life: embracing a religion.
“Last night in my hotel room,” he said, “I finally felt good enough to pray. Among other things, I asked God whether I should join the church I was raised in, my neighbor’s church, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which my wife is a member. I felt good about the prayer, but I didn’t feel I had received an answer—until you threw me that shirt!”
As the Lord has promised, when we share the gospel he will give us the things we should say and do “in the very hour, yea, in the very moment” we need them (see D&C 100:5–8; compare 2 Ne. 32:3, 5; D&C 84:80, 85).
“Go Save Your Father”
I retreated to the corridor of the hospital in Hong Kong to talk to our Heavenly Father in prayer. My mother was dying of cancer. My father had just suffered a heart attack and was in another hospital across town. I had stayed with him until he stabilized, then returned to be with my mother until my sister arrived to relieve me.
Standing in the hall, I felt the burden was almost more than I could bear. I prayed that my mother would not suffer any longer, but I also pleaded that both my parents would not be taken at that time. I prayed that my father would live at least two more years.
My mother had suffered greatly for a long time. The doctor told me there was nothing more he could do for her and that the end would be soon.
I looked at my watch. It was 8:30 P.M., and my sister still had not arrived. As I waited, I heard a voice say, “Go to your father. He is in grave danger.”
I brushed away the thought, for I had left him not long before and he had been much improved. Besides, I could not go until my sister arrived. The warning came again. “You must go immediately to save your father.” What should I do? It would take me half an hour to drive to the other hospital, and visiting hours would be over. Then the message came a third time.
I rushed to the elevator, praying again that my father would be given at least two more years before being taken. As I left the elevator, I saw my sister. “I have to save our father!” I told her as I rushed out the door.
I arrived at the hospital, but it was closed for the night and the lights were off. I finally gained entrance and found the nurse’s station. “I must see my father!” I explained. Against all rules, I was permitted to go on the floor. All was dark, but I used a flashlight to find the room. I went in, and as I passed the first bed, the patient tried to tell me something while pointing to the third bed where my father lay. I saw my father sitting up, choking and gasping for breath. He was beginning to turn blue. I saw that the oxygen tube had been disconnected and that he was suffocating. I summoned the nurse, who quickly reconnected the tube. My father’s face slowly returned to normal color.
My mother died two days later, but my father improved. The Lord had heard my heartfelt prayers and gave me the time with my father I had asked for. He passed away two years later.
I Prayed and Drove On
While working as a police officer near Córdoba, Argentina, I received a telephone call one morning from a nurse at the community health center, asking for assistance. We often got such calls because we operated one of the few ambulances in the area.
The nurse told me that in the health center there was a five-month-old baby with a case of extreme dehydration. She required an urgent transfer to the children’s hospital in Córdoba, where the equipment necessary to treat her would be available. The ambulance driver and I were quickly on our way, and we soon had the baby and her mother in the ambulance. The baby was scared and crying; she had a fever and was hyperventilating. Her eyes were wide open, and her little face showed that she was in great pain.
The hospital in Córdoba was forty kilometers away. We had gone about fifteen kilometers when steam and boiling water began shooting out from under the hood of our vehicle. A red light came on inside the cab, and the temperature gauge showed overheating. This couldn’t be happening—we had just had the ambulance checked over! But we had no choice other than to stop at the side of the road and carefully open the hood.
The radiator hose was leaking in several places and was about to burst. “We can’t go any farther,” said Oscar, my companion, feeling helpless. “If we had gone even a few more meters, the ambulance would have broken down completely.”
My mind raced as I tried to think of a solution. We didn’t have a radio, and there were no other cars on the road that we could signal for help. All around us were abandoned fields. Meanwhile, the baby was getting worse.
I knew we needed our Father in Heaven’s help. I closed my eyes and silently prayed. Then I told Oscar that we had to continue as far as we could and see if we could get to a place where we could get help. “We should trust in God and have faith that we will arrive,” I said.
Oscar hesitated. If we went any farther, the hose might explode, and we would never get to the hospital. If we waited a little longer, the engine might have time to cool down. But the baby was getting worse. Again, I told him, “Oscar, we should trust in our Heavenly Father. He will help us get to the hospital.”
I turned to the mother, and as I spoke to her I had a strong feeling come to me that if we did not lose hope we would arrive in time to save her baby. With determination and confidence, I said, “We can make it.”
We started the motor and moved on. The gauge didn’t show such a high temperature now, and we continued our journey. Steam was no longer coming out from under the hood. Cautiously we drove on. After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to the hospital.
The doctor who attended the baby later told us, “If you had taken any longer, she may not have arrived here alive. She was in worse shape than we thought.”
How grateful I was that our Father in Heaven had helped us arrive in time! I knew that he had opened the way for us to get there so that the baby’s life would be saved, which it was.
On our return trip we discussed what had happened. Oscar said, “That was incredible. I didn’t think we would make it.”
I told him we had witnessed a miracle. “I was praying the whole way there that God would help us,” I told him.
He looked me in the eyes, smiled, and nodded his head in agreement. “So was I,” he confessed. “It was the first time I had ever prayed so much. God helped us to arrive. Only he could have done it.”
A Promise Fulfilled
One August many years ago, our stake president joyfully announced that because of our growth in numbers, our Massachusetts ward of 500 members was being split three ways, leaving us with a new ward of 225 members. The following November, the stake president attended our new ward’s conference. In his talk, he admonished us for not doing our part in spreading the gospel. He told us that if we had been active member missionaries, our chapel could possibly be full again by now.
The stake president then issued a challenge: “If you will be faithful, invite your friends, and bear your testimonies, by next ward conference you will be instrumental in bringing a family into the gospel.”
As the stake president bore his testimony, the Spirit bore witness to me that he was speaking the truth, and I made a mental note to follow his advice. But then a more forceful thought came: You must commit yourself. You must write to President Pitcher and tell him that you know he spoke the truth and that you will respond.
That afternoon, I took pen in hand and promised the president that I would be instrumental in bringing a family into the gospel by next ward conference. I felt a strong desire to partake of the joy of missionary work.
I set out to convert the world, only to find that the world was not ready to be converted. At one point, I set my mind on a beautiful family, some very good friends who I knew had a great respect for the Church and what we stand for. They thoroughly enjoyed coming to Church get-togethers and loved their Latter-day Saint friends. I thought they would be perfect for the missionary discussions, but to my surprise they answered with a flat no. Their past experience with organized religion had been so bad that for now they would not even consider listening. My prayers and my search went on.
In early May, I flew out west to see my family. But first I went to a member of the stake presidency to have my temple recommend renewed. He asked me about my missionary activities. I told him I was doing my best, but there was no exciting news on the horizon.
Whenever I travel, I make it a practice to fast and pray for the opportunity to bear my testimony to someone. I had never been disappointed yet. On this trip, however, the most frustrating thing happened. I went from Boston to Salt Lake City, Seattle, Boise, and then back to Boston via Atlanta. In all that time, no one ever sat next to me. No one!
After my return home, I began to search even more intensely. In early July, I had a long, prayerful conversation with Heavenly Father. I told him that time was running out, and I asked him to show me who wanted to learn more about his church because I did not know where to find them.
Two days later at work, an associate came to me and said, “I know you love strawberries. I’m going to a strawberry farm tomorrow. Will you let me pick you some?”
I was delighted by the offer, but my husband and I were leaving town for a few days, and the berries would probably spoil before we returned. Hearing this, my friend offered to get them ready for the freezer. I declined, telling her that I could never pay her back.
“But there is something you can do for me,” she said. “Take me to your church sometime.”
So the following Sunday my friend came to church. The lesson in the Gospel Essentials class was on love and family. She participated in the discussion, explaining that she had always known that this kind of love existed but had never experienced it and didn’t know where to find it.
She readily agreed to listen to the missionary discussions. In fact, we started that afternoon. Never had I seen anyone more ready to accept the truth.
My friend became more and more enthralled as the missionaries presented the principles of the gospel to her. Her baptismal date was set for early September. Then, as often happens, problems started at home. Her husband was against her studying the gospel. But she had made her decision.
“I know the gospel is true,” she said, “and I will follow the Savior.”
Her husband reluctantly consented to come to her baptism. It did not take him long to start studying the gospel himself. By the end of October, he too was baptized.
We were now nine days away from our annual ward conference. I felt humble and joyful that I had been an instrument in the Lord’s hands in helping a family accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Capsized in a Storm
The Scouts had been planning a July expedition to Lake Shoshone in Yellowstone National Park for months, and at last it was here. I too was excited. As ward Scoutmaster, I looked forward to spending prime time with my eldest son, David, an Explorer who shares my enthusiasm for fishing.
Arriving early one morning at Lake Shoshone, I thought it looked as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. We were welcomed by clear skies and a slight wind. I was itching to get David and my fishing pole on the lake, but we determined we should wait for the wind to calm.
By 3:00 P.M. the air settled and everyone scrambled for the canoes. David and I were so immersed in trying different lures and casting out spinners that we neglected to see the approaching, ominous clouds. At last a strong blast of wind got our attention, and I glanced up and was alarmed to see that the sudden storm had made the lake as turbulent and frightening as a battlefield. I thought at first that we were the last ones on the lake. Before heading for shore, however, I scanned the stormy lake once more. Off in the distance I saw an overturned canoe. Seconds became eternities as David and I struggled with the paddles, forcing our canoe against the waves.
As I paddled, my mind raced back to the night before, when our camp had received a surprise visit from a park ranger. We had asked him about the area, and out of curiosity, I had asked him how someone in an upright canoe could rescue a friend in an overturned canoe. We listened as he gave us step-by-step instructions.
Reaching the capsized canoe, we saw our friend Joel Holley barely able to hold his head above the chilly waters. Immersed in forty-degree water, his athletic, 275-pound body was already becoming numb with hypothermia, but true to his character he mumbled, “Hey you guys, don’t worry about me. Save yourselves.”
I was determined to get him back to shore and I knew I had to use every split second without error. One mistake by me or David, and our canoe would also capsize. I realized then that our lives depended on our memory of the park ranger’s earlier instructions. I asked Joel to use all his remaining strength to hold on to the side of my canoe while David maintained its balance. As I prayed for help, in my mind I could actually see and hear the park ranger detailing what I should do. I maneuvered the capsized canoe perpendicular to mine, slid it over the top of my canoe, and, as quickly as I dared, turned it right side up. With David keeping our canoe balanced, I slid Joel’s canoe back into the water. Moving the canoes parallel, I told Joel to get over to the side of his own canoe opposite our canoe and climb in. After being in that frozen abyss for more than fifteen minutes, Joel should have no longer been able to stay above water. Nonetheless, with frozen fingers and a numbed body, he fought for movement and struggled into his canoe.
By the time Joel was in the canoe, it was nearly full of chilling water, and he began shivering uncontrollably. I tried to encourage him as David and I helplessly bailed water from his canoe with our baseball caps. Realizing we were totally reliant on the mercy of Heavenly Father, I bowed my head and vocally prayed. I asked for the winds to cease, the sky to clear, and the waters to calm so our friends on shore could hear us. No sooner had I finished praying than the winds ceased, the sky cleared, the waters calmed, and we saw a rescue canoe on its way toward us.
As emergency care was given to Joel on the shore, I glanced at David. With unspoken words we shared the gratitude of witnessing God’s love through an answer to prayer.